The Alamitos Bay Marina parking lot sits across from the busy 2nd and PCH shopping center. Photo by Jason Ruiz

Long Beach boat owners are protesting the possibility that the Alamitos Bay Marina parking lots could soon require payment to park, something that they said would hurt their ability to use the marina and potentially injure adjacent yacht clubs.

The Alamitos Bay Marina parking lots are located just east of the 2nd and PCH shopping center in Southeast Long Beach and have provided free parking for boaters and visitors to establishments like Schooner or Later, the San Pedro Fish Market and Ballast Point.

The 2nd and PCH center itself could be affecting parking availability, according to city officials, who said that employees and patrons of the center are using the lots to avoid parking in the paid structure, which is decreasing the number of spots available to the public at the marina.

The 2nd and PCH structure offers free parking for the first 90 minutes without validation but charges $2 every 20 minutes after that, with a daily maximum of $30.

A presentation given to the city’s Marine Advisory Commission in November included recommendations that include restricting the lot, establishing long-term parking for commercial and boat operators, valet parking and adding metered parking to the lots that wrap around the marina from 2nd Street to Alamitos Bay Landing.

Commissioner Bruce DD McCrae said he’s encountered not only employees from 2nd and PCH parking at the free lot and walking over, but others parking in the free lot at the marina before jumping on a boat to Downtown or other destinations.

“People that are parking there and taking the boat over to Downtown Long Beach and spending the day there, if they were to park there they’d have to put the coins in the machine,” McCrae said.

McCrae did note that if paid parking were to be implemented, he felt the revenue should stay in the marina system and not be deposited into the city’s Tidelands Fund, something that has been proposed.

There are also concerns that a new housing project that could be built south of 2nd and PCH at the Marina Shores retail center could exacerbate parking in the lot, something that a city consultant thinks metered parking could help mitigate.

Establishing paid parking at the marina would require approval from the California Coastal Commission. Potential rates for parking and limitations for how long someone could park at the lots if meters are installed have yet to be discussed.

Jim Nagashima, vice commodore of the Seal Beach Yacht Club that is located in the marina, told the commission Thursday that the club’s numerous races and charity events depend on the lot being free. Nagashima said a typical race requires about five to 20 people per boat with the races lasting three to eight hours.

People walk past ships in their slips at Alamitos Bay Marina. Photo by Jason Ruiz

While the marina does have several rows of restricted parking for boat owners, Nagashima said that paid parking would not work for its members and their guests, many of whom are not eligible for the parking stickers needed to park there.

“The people who are out boating, how are they going to feed the meters when they’re out for a race for four to five hours?” Nagashima asked.

He said the yacht club, which has operated out of the marina for 50 years, would not be able to survive without free parking for its members and guests.

The Seal Beach club has contractual rights to 241 free spaces written into its lease, but whether those will eventually be phased out is unclear. The commission is expected to transmit recommendations for the future of the marina lot to the full City Council as soon as February.

Joan Palango, executive vice president of the Long Beach Marina Boat Owners Association, said she believed the boat owners that pay for slip space at the marina have already paid for parking.

Palango pointed out that $114 million in bonds the city took on in 2015 to make improvements to the marina are paid mostly from slip fees collected from boat owners. Slip fees range from about $200 to nearly $3,600 per month, depending on the size.

“The parking lot is an integral part of the marina, it’s a place to park our cars walk down a ramp and get onto our boats in the water,” Palango said. “It’s not really free, I want to make that clear. We’re paying for it and we’re paying through our slip fees.”

A screenshot of the areas studied in Alamitos Bay Marina for potential metered parking.

Both Palango and Nagashima said their clubs require hundreds of parking spaces per month to support boat owners and guests of their clubs. And Palango believes that the Coastal Commission will ultimately side with them.

Many marinas in the city require boat owners and guests to have special decals or fobs to access parking. While the Alamitos Bay Marina does have designated parking for boat owners, it is open to the public and provides parking for restaurants in the lot as well as a weekend farmers market.

Metered parking has accounted for between $1 million and $1.5 million in revenue generated for general fund citywide over the past few years.

The commission is expected to meet again Jan. 20 to continue the discussion before its February meeting where it could vote to forward a recommendation to the City Council.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.